Thursday, April 13, 2017

'The shadows are still around here': Here's 25 new SABC shockers as the broadcaster's staffers make astounding revelations about the chaos inside the crumbling SA public broadcaster.

SABC staffers venting their frustrations and problems have made shocking new revelations about mismanagement, maladministration and the chaotic situation inside the out-of-cash and crumbling South African public broadcaster.

SABC staffers from across the various divisions within the public broadcaster that's hovering on the brink of financial collapse, publicly voiced their concerns and fears, anger and frustration about an unbelievable array of shocking things that's gone haywire at the SABC.

SABC workers inside a jam-packed SABC auditorium, including tele-linked in provincial personnel, spoke up in front of the new SABC interim board and parliament's portfolio committee on communications that visited the SABC.

Here's just 25 of the most shocking things they said:

■ SABC TV licence staffer: "People are too afraid to address this topic. They're too afraid. The TV licence department was going to strike. Hlaudi Motsoeneng and James Aguma came in and they offered us a contract and we were supposed to be permanent. But its obvious that it's not going to happen. It continues with temp, temp, temp."

■ Nelspruit staffer: "Ligwalagwala FM doesn't have a station manager because he was suspended a year ago. We don't know what's happening with that. Then there is an open space that the SABC is paying for, but it's not used. It's just empty. That's wasteful expenditure."

■ Magdaleen Kruger, RSG station manager: "We used to have a public broadcasting division and commercial division. A few month ago it was changed to fall under corporate affairs. Radio is now reporting to corporate affairs.We don't have general managers anymore. There's no decision making."

"At the moment the SABC is the only public broadcaster in the world sitting with this skewed, non-structure for radio."

■ Magdaleen Kruger, RSG station manager: "We are in austerity at the SABC. If we need a mic we can't order it. But at the same time a R10.2 million plan was approved to pay R50 000 each to legends in the music industry. That R10.2 million was not budgeted for, we don't know who approved it."

■ Polokwane staffer: "There is a moratorium on hiring of people at SABC. Limpopo doesn't have a provincial editor for news and current affairs and that creates a lot of instability."

■ Dumile Mateza, TV news presenter: "SABC News (DStv 404) is under threat."

"The channel started in 2013. We had a channel head. Today SABC News doesn't have a channel head. It means the channel has been driven by freelancers, all the time. All the staff you see on that channel has been driven by freelancers."

"When the SABC got the chance to set up this channel on DStv, they got the opportunity to start something that they could take forward once digital TV migration comes in. SABC News has been neglected."

"Whenever there's a funeral it goes on this channel, whenever there's a rally it goes on this channel. The funerals, I actually said to somebody, probably they must go to Avbob, they can sponsor these funerals."

"We have been rudderless on the SABC News channel since Themba Mthembu retired three years ago and we have been left to our own devices."

"Some of us, we're three in a team. We don't even have an executive producer. We do all the executive producing work but we don't get paid for it."

■ Poobie Pillay, ad exec: "Landmark was implemented last year April. Landmark is an ad booking system that was meant to book client adverts and run across all 18 SABC radio stations. Landmark wasn't tested before implementation, there was no research done as to why we should use this software system for radio."

"The SABC has lost million by using and implementing the Landmark system. My colleagues and I've got clients on a daily basis ... we've got, Afrikaans ads are on Ukhozi FM; it's just a mess. We can't execute competitions and we are losing millions of rand."

"I love the SABC. I've always dreamt of working here. It makes me sad to see that we're in financial distress because some people didn't take the time to go and do their research to make sure that this organisation can pay its employees."

"It's a year later and we're passing credits of over R100 million to clients."

■ Carmen Schnider, manager SABC change management department: "I was asked to come here two years ago and to help with change. I'm sorry to say 90% of the changes I'm not involved in at all, nor is my team."

"I'm afraid to say that most of the changes are done somewhere, bekonkeld in an office without change management involved. There's policies being changed, there's policies being flouted and change management isn't involved at all. It is so sad."

■ Alet, current affairs producer: "I returned to the SABC 20 months ago. It was like moving back in time."

"The technology or the lack of technology in this place is shocking. In TV current affairs we're still working on tapes."

"In current affairs there's 7 or 8 cameramen available to all the current affairs programmes. We've been told we can only have one cameraman, per programme, per week. How are we supposed to shoot our inserts?"

■ Nigel Bird, commissioning editor: "The concern is for us the flouting of procurement processes."

"Commissioning editors are tasked with procuring, but somebody come from wayside and will tell you 'This is what you will be doing'. He said: "the SABC is hemorrhaging money."

■ Thandeka Gqubule, economics editor: "We're the victim of inept, ignorant management."

"We are a victim of corrupt management."

"We are politically influenced. Political appointments, political everything. We want a multi-stakeholder board that's representative of the South African public that is drawn from labour, churches, unions and all members of our society. You can see how painful the consequences of political meddling and cadre deployment are. They wreck lives."

"The shadows are still around here. A slew of significant decisions have been made in the last three months: Positions moved around, people moved around, enormously important financial decisions. On what authority have these decisions been made?"

"That MultiChoice contract must go. It wasn't proper, it was illegal and it delays us from going digital."

■ David Webb, independent contract worker: "The over 5 000 employees that are here at the SABC, the majority share, somewhat over 3 000 are independent contractors."

"Is it right for freelancers to be contracted year after year, some employees for up to 20 years, on a year to year contract? The department of labour stated to us that something is not right with the issuing of these contracts".

■ SABC staffer: "This place is shrouded in secrecy. We're being threatened with retrenchment. Yet within the SABC the place is filled with consultants duplicating functions. Yet people are being threatened with being fired."

■ Ukhozi FM marketing executive in Durban: "When I went to Wits for four years, studied and got my honours, it wasn't to date anyone. I studied hard for myself to get better opportunities. It is always about the wrong people, hired at the wrong positions."

■ Lotus FM producer in Durban: "The 90% local content issue, we're facing financial crisis. Lotus FM has been affected drastically in terms of revenue and listenership figures. SABC interim board should try to bring back credibility to the SABC's radio station and TV channels".

■ Bloemfontein staffer: "We at provinces are not properly resourced."

■ Kimberley staffer: "The communication from the SABC as a broadcaster is very poor. The Northern Cape province, where we are, the accommodation is not conducive."

■ Polokwane staffer: "The SABC has lost millions of rands in the Landmark ad booking system, and no-one is looking at who introduced this monster that is costing the SABC so much money."

■ Polokwane staffer: "In Limpopo out of the blue it was announced by then-COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng that Phalaphala FM would move to Thohoyandou without consultation with staff."

"When we asked the acting GE of corporate affairs and raised issues about technical glitches in Thohoyandou to say that building isn't ready to be occupied from, he said you're not going to stop Hlaudi's vision".

■ Polokwane staffer: "The technology in Limpopo is very, very pathetic. We asked for technology to just record something. We have a very old machine. For you to go out and record content outside, it's a nightmare."

■ Polokwane staffer: "I'm wondering if James Aguma, acting SABC CEO isn't part of the problems we are talking about. James Aguma still consults the former COO and he runs to Hlaudi's house after work. That tells us that we're still being run by Hlaudi from the grave".

■ IT website staffer: "In February we had a meeting with our manager where she told us that there's a new company that has been contracted to come and develop 7 websites for the SABC. The company is called Infonomix."

"When we asked if we still have jobs, nobody is able to respond to that. Our unions have tried to ask to find out what is going to happen to us since this company has been contracted for 5 years, and nobody is responding to those questions."

■ Nonnie Jacobs, SABC Sport managing editor: "My worst victimisation is to spend sleepless nights, concerned as to whether I'm going to have a salary."

"As SABC Sport, we need sporting rights. If we don't have rights, are we still a department?"

■ Victor, ABC Sport staffer: "SABC Sport is in ICU. The wheels fell off when we lost the rights. We have a management that thrives on victimisation, not planning, no research."

"Business plans are done last minute, we lost sponsorships, we lose advertisers. Other departments have to be pointed a finger on over our inept handling of responsibility."

"We are not making money for SABC anymore. We are draining money out of SABC. We have a marketing department that we don't know what they're doing."

■ SABC staffer: "Are we going to be retrenched or not? It's a very simple question. Because hearing things in the corridors is unacceptable. And you all know, the SABC, where there's smoke there's fire. Is there money or is there no money? We should not be hearing it from a press release in the media."